How research during a public health emergency is conducted is recognized as essential to the public health response to that emergency. Such research needs to undergo substantive and meaningful ethical review in a timely manner. Rapid ethical review may be accomplished through a number of mechanisms, including use of local rapid-response institutional review boards (IRBs). We describe use of such a model in the setting of the 2014 Ebola virus disease epidemic and the Rapid-Response IRB's subsequent transition to a multisite single IRB model during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The rapid-response review model is characterized by a small IRB with extensive use of alternate members with specific expertise and by close collaboration with the investigator in an iterative process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-21
Number of pages6
JournalEthics and Human Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • Ebola
  • human subjects research
  • institutional review board (IRB)
  • local rapid-response institutional review board
  • public health emergency
  • single IRB (sIRB)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


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